Don’t drive there whatever you do, but walk as fast as you can to this beautifully located spot on the Thames
I should have realised, there’s no parking near the Bingham Riverhouse. It’s all red lines, double yellow lines and ‘residents only’ for what seems like miles around.
So, after a few fruitless and frustrating trips around the block I found the only real option, the Heron Square Car Park up the hill. It’s about a ten-minute walk from there down to the restaurant and I recommend it.
The Bingham Riverhouse is a lovely spot otherwise. It was once two Georgian townhouses backing onto the Thames that were joined together back in the mists of time. It was more recently renamed from just Bingham, the new name which arrived in February 2019 along with a big refurbishment.
It’s now a ‘restaurant with rooms’ and it’s warm and welcoming, from the cheerful bar on the right of reception - very good Martinis as well as a fine view of the river and gardens - to the left hand ‘library’ room with another dining room just beyond that. Both with garden French windows and apparently all the 15 rooms upstairs enjoy that river view, too.
It seems popular when we go in. Richmond has no shortage of well-heeled residents and the dining rooms are just about full. We don’t get a window seat, but by now it’s dark outside anyway.
Head chef Andrew Cole has worked in the kitchen since beginning in 2010 as Senior Sous Chef and so far, he’s done very well - the restaurant has a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 3 AA Rosettes.
So what’s on the menu? Well it is very seasonal of course; woe betide any chef today who serves food out of season. People react to that like the man in Munch’s The Scream, except they do it on Twitter and a bit more silently.
Broad beans are very much in season; at this time of year you can almost get away with not shucking off the bitter grey coats the beans are wrapped in. Chef has done that though, and the result is a risotto of broad beans and watercress that is a good vibrant green.
A horseradish cream has been drizzled on top, I would have liked that to have been a bit more pungent and a little less creamy, but Thai pickled shallots bob up every now and then to add a good sparkly crunch. It’s a good dish, the rice is perfect, my only complaint perversely is the size of the portion. It’s far too big. I ate it all, being greedy, and rather overfilled myself.
P being more delicate went for a crab teriyaki, avocado, lime, chili, coriander cress with puffed wild rice. The latter seems everywhere these days, but it’s always welcome with its slight chewiness. Here it pointed up the delicate crab. A very elegant starter that left her wanting more.
I love Hake almost as much as the Spanish do, yet in the UK it seems largely passed over. I passed it over here with some regret as it was advertised as being roasted with peppered lardo, white bean cassoulet and white pudding. In fact, it sounded just the kind of thing I like to eat.
But I was seduced away by the pan-fried halibut with pea and mint puree (you can’t go wrong with that combination), crushed peas, jersey royals and a potted shrimp sauce.I didn’t regret it, although perhaps too much pea on the plate?
The fish was very well cooked, although the slightly soft skin suggested it might have been waiting a bit too long on the pass for the rest of the dish to join it and had shrugged off some crispiness.
The combination of the shrimp sauce and fish was definitely a winner and the small spuds had been baked to intensify their flavour. This made them look a little gnarly, but not all food should be concerned with how it looks on Instagram and certainly chefs should not worry too much about it either.
We had a good Portuguese red from a surprisingly large and in places quite expensive wine list, but the sommelier was friendly and helpful and made no attempt to push the pricey stuff.
P had the steak, not the most imaginative choice but she wanted it. A fine piece of meat done properly ‘a point’ and livened up with anchovy as well as a bonito sauce which put me in mind of the Italian dish Vitello tonnato and in a good way.She had sweet potato and sour cream mash with it, gorgeous stuff I could have eaten all on its own
Rhubarb is as seasonal as asparagus, you don’t have long to enjoy this vegetable. In fact, you might not have long to live either if you pick and eat it after mid-June. The amount of oxalic acid then present in the leaves is dangerously high.
It came with mascarpone mousse and that perennial friend of rhubarb - stem ginger. Some cleverly dehydrated sponge and a rhubarb sorbet delivered a whole palate of textures.
Olive Oil and Orange Polenta Cake came with burnt orange, lemon thyme and a chocolate sorbet. A slight pepperiness from the oil offset the light chocolate and again it was all very pretty on the plate. Personally, I feel that while all dishes should strive to be visually appealing, it’s desserts that really need all the stops pulled out and they were here.
So you may be asking, why no food photos? Well, because the light was designed more for diner comfort and conviviality than for iPhones and I am not going to argue with that.
Beautifully located and as the summer comes along one perhaps one of the most beautifully located London restaurants, Bingham Riverhouse has emerged from its revamping as a real destination for locals and Londoners alike.